We purchased a Lifesize unit several years ago because we saw the potential for hosting virtual field trips. For a variety of reasons (budget, internet issues, lack of mobility), the unit really has not been used. This year we decided that we needed to change that especially as our principal put aside funds for vft, the internet issues were resolved and our unit was taken off the wall and placed on a mobile stand. All we needed was a teacher willing to give it at try.
The Home Economics teacher approached me in the fall, asking me to organize a virtual field trip with the Royal Botanical Gardens as she had found a program called 'Chocolate: From Treasure to Treat'. We booked it back in November for January 22nd, giving us enough time to prep the students, test out the system and for me to start learning how to use the technology.
On the day of the big event we had a bit of a technological hiccup to start but that wasn't really anything we could have controlled. The connection was crisp and clear and Karin did an incredible job of presenting the material in a variety of ways. And it soon became clear that Karin is a fountain of knowledge. She also had done a lot of work to put the presentation together and emailed back and forth with our Home Economics teacher about the presentation and lesson plan and tailored the virtual field trip to meet the BC learning outcomes for Foods and Nutrition 9.
Students learned about the cacao plant and then had the chance to taste a cacao bean, some nibs, and some unsweetened dark chocolate. It was interesting to see the students' reactions, clearly they thought cacao would taste sweet. We had some students dashing madly for glasses of water as they had popped a whole cacao bean to eat and didn't care too much for the taste.
Karin then went on to explain how chocolate was made more palatable by the Mayans and Aztecs through the use of cinnamon, chilis, or vanilla.
Throughout the presentation we had other teachers popping in to check out the virtual field trip and seeing the Lifesize unit in action. Our Home Economics teacher is looking to book another virtual field trip with Karin at the Royal Botanical Gardens and our Outdoor Education 9 teacher has already placed a request to have Karin present about medicinal plants. I also have the Art teacher and an English teacher inquiring about possible virtual field trips for their classes.
If you have the chance to participate in a virtual field trip, try it. If you are looking to book a stellar presentation, I would highly recommend the Royal Botanical Gardens.